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Local woman on program for Bush's salute to veterans

By By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Jan. 17, 2001
Just more than two years after Lou Pennebaker began the veteran's foundation that would immortalize the man she once loved, the world will hear her story.
Pennebaker is scheduled to speak Friday at a special Salute to Veterans ceremony as part inaugural celebrations for President-elect George W. Bush Jr.
Pennebaker's speech will be one of four covering the eras of World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.
Her speech will be dedicated to the Vietnam era, when Pennebaker lost Michael Blassie, the man whom she dated for a year and might have married had he returned from the conflict.
In his memory, Pennebaker founded The Memory Tree Foundation after DNA tests proved the remains of the famous "Vietnam unknown soldier" in Arlington Cemetery were those of Blassie's.
During the last Veteran's Day celebration, in which at least 26,000 yellow ribbons adorned the Memory Tree in downtown Meridian, Bush sent a signed ribbon to be placed on the tree.
Although scheduled to speak at 1 p.m. (CST), Pennebaker said she isn't yet sure where the speech will take place or when she will arrive in Washington, D.C.
Bush inaugural committee members invited Pennebaker last week to speak, and so far, she hasn't had time to write her speech.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at mtodd@themeridianstar.com.